Editor’s note: Michael Jay Tucker recently traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to attend a conference of concerned and liberal Christians and others. It was an event which, in his opinion, demonstrates the good which religion can do in politics, when it comes from the Compassionate Left rather than the Reactionary Right.
Tucker has now done a series of pieces about the conference, and they will be run as a serial in Liberal Resistance over the next few days. The illustrations are by the author. To see them in larger size, click on each.
Today (Tuesday, Feb 5. ) we drove up from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to attend something called “The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Bishop’s Luncheon and Issues Briefing.” It can be a bit difficult to explain what that is, particularly as we are not Lutherans, but briefly, it is a meeting meant to spread the word, as it were, about good things the Ministry is doing and how we can help.
It turns out that there are many different sorts of Lutheran. Some are quite conservative, even reactionary (I gather that the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod has a tradition of being on the right), while others are extremely liberal. The Rocky Mountain Synod is the one we’re dealing with here, and it is on the moderate to left side of the equation.
One of the things that the Synod does is maintain “ministries,’ organizations with different missions. Among these is the Advocacy Ministry, which works with the state legislature and various lobbyists to make life better for people in the state, and potentially beyond. They have a particular interest, I gather, in fighting childhood hunger, which makes them worthy in my eyes at least.
The meeting and luncheon happen once a year and are open to anyone who wishes to sign up and pay a small fee, and a great many non-Lutherans do. (This year, in fact, I learned that over half the attendees were not Lutherans.) Several different churches, faith communities, and organizations send delegations to see how and if we can collaborate with the Ministry in its work — which is how we ended up here in the first place. Some years ago, the Church we attend (the Church of the Good Shepherd, or COGS for short) asked for volunteers, and Martha volunteered us. I think I recall agreeing to it, but even I don’t, it hadn’t mattered.
Anyway, we have been going now for three years. Though, as Martha sadly noted, this will probably be our last time doing so. We are moving to Austin to be close to ‘the kids,” which means we will no longer be at COGS, and no longer be in touch with the Rocky Mountain anything…
We arrived mid-morning and parked up near the plaza. From there, our first stop was the La Fonda Hotel, which is our usual port of call. It has restrooms.
The La Fonda is, of course, a major landmark in the city. The building is old and venerable, and the institution dates back to the very early years of tourism as an industry. It is important to keep in mind that Santa Fe is a tourist city—one of the first. When the railroad first came to this territory, it went to Albuquerque rather than to Santa Fe, and so the city found itself in the midst of an existential crisis. It was the state capital, which provided significant income, but commerce was shifting away to the south. To compensate, the city’s leadership deliberately set to make their town a focus of the tourist trade.
And for a long time, it has worked. Which is why you are far more likely to see movie stars and other celebrities in the street in Santa Fe than in Albuquerque.
Though this has come at a price. Ordinary folk find it very hard to pay rents here. And, or so i’m told, it can be hard to be an old timer and not feel a bit out of place in the Santa Fe of wealth and privilege.
Thus success in an age of late capitalism is always sort of tantalizing. The grand and glittering prize is always just about to arrive…
Only, for most people, it doesn’t.
Michael Jay Tucker is the “sort of volunteer editor” of LR Net. He is also a writer and journalist who has written on topics ranging from the Jazz Age to computers. (Among his small claims to fame is that he interviewed Steve Jobs just after that talented if complicated man got kicked out of Apple, and just before the company’s Board came begging him to come back.)
Tucker’s most recent book is Padre: To The Island, a meditation on life and death based on the passing of his own parents.
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